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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Firefighters and Cancer Risk

We trust our firefighters to protect and serve the public. Yet, every year in the United States, firefighters experience medical conditions directly related to their time in the line of duty. When this happens, there are legal options that firefighters can take. 

Below, the experienced attorneys at SPBMCC explain the correlation between firefighters and cancer risk and what you can do if you or a loved one has experienced cancer following a career in fire service.

Why Do Firefighters Get Cancer?

Contrary to popular belief, fire-related injuries do not constitute the most common cause of occupational death for firefighters. In reality, the long-term threat of different types of cancer resulting from on-the-job exposure to carcinogens poses a higher risk to firefighters than the immediate dangers they face daily.

Similar to asbestos, exposure to PFAS (also known as polyfluoroalkyl substances) in firefighter turnout gear has been associated with various severe and life-threatening conditions. These conditions include kidney disease, leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and others. Firefighters face an elevated risk of developing these diseases—especially kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancer—due to regular exposure to and ingestion of these chemicals in the course of their work.

What Causes Cancer in Firefighters?

While it is known that firefighters put themselves at risk every day, one thing they do not necessarily expect is to be put at risk by the very items meant for them to do their jobs.

Firefighters are regularly exposed to PFAS in fire-retardant clothing and firefighting foam, known as Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF), which is also a hazard. While AFFF is highly effective in firefighting, its use also presents significant long-term health risks associated with the chemical compounds comprising the substance. 

The prevalent PFAS compounds, mainly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are integral to firefighting foam. These compounds can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact, often accumulating in the blood, kidneys, and liver over time.

What is the Most Common Cancer in Firefighters?

According to the American Cancer Society, there is sufficient evidence of an increased risk for firefighters of mesothelioma and bladder cancer. Additionally, there is some evidence of a correlation between firefighting and the following:

  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Melanoma of the skin
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

If you are a firefighter or know someone who may have been exposed to PFAS through firefighting foam during their career and are experiencing signs and symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, bloody urine or stool, or the development of abnormal masses, it is crucial to consult with a doctor promptly.

Contact the Experienced NYC Firefighter Injury Attorneys at SPBMCC Today

Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. is a reputable, full-service personal injury law firm specializing in various areas, including firefighter injuries. Our dedicated litigation support teams are committed to vigorously representing clients in matters such as 9/11-related illnesses, personal injury cases, car accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, medical malpractice, and firefighter law across New York City, Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk counties, and New Jersey. Contact us today to learn more about our firm or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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